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08 Aug 19. Mobile battlespace communication trialled at Talisman Sabre 19. Boeing Defence Australia has announced a first-of-its-kind prototype of ‘on-the-move’ battlespace communication technology was put to the test at the recent war games in Australia, 18 months ahead of scheduled release.
Developed as part of Boeing Defence Australia’s (BDA) Project Currawong and integrated into an armoured vehicle, the Headquarters on the Move (HQOTM) capability provides commanders with unprecedented mobile situational awareness, decision-making ability and voice connectivity.
Project Currawong program director Ian Vett said, “Even in the most remote locations, and when travelling at speed, the vehicle can link via satellite to the Australian Defence Force’s secure communications network, giving commanders real-time information on the enemy’s location and the ability to communicate with land-based forces and ADF headquarters from anywhere.”
Exercise Talisman Sabre, a bilateral combined Australian and US training activity to improve combat readiness and interoperability between the allied nations, provided the ideal initial testing ground for the capability.
Trialling on exercise enables frontline soldiers to give feedback on operational functionality as well as providing Boeing engineers with access to realistic war-like scenarios to continue to innovate and improve the equipment’s capability.
“HQOTM is not scheduled to be released until late 2020. However, the bi-annual Talisman Sabre field training exercise provided an exceptional opportunity for BDA to demonstrate and test this ground-breaking future capability,” Vett added.
The 3rd Combat Signal Regiment, on the ground at Talisman Sabre, tweeted the PMV will provide a step-change in mobile information and communication services to commanders and their staffs across a range of mission sets.
Vett added, “It also helps the customer to get an early and more complete understanding of the Currawong system’s unquestionable capacity to redefine the future of battlespace communication.”
In addition to demonstrating the on-the-move capability, Currawong’s Release 1 equipment – comprising a large man-portable, modular core black data network, communication bearers, a mission system manager, and field voice services – was fully deployed at Talisman Sabre to support the two weeks of war games.
Boeing Defence Australia delivered the new network under LAND 2072 Phase 2B, which included the core communication network software and hardware, along with 39 deployable communication nodes to date. (Source: Defence Connect)
07 Aug 19. Can the Army master information dominance on the battlefield? Today’s missions are often conducted in remote settings that are detached from the connected, everyday world. Those environments will only grow more lethal and disruptive, according to the National Defense Strategy, which means troops need an uninterrupted supply of accurate data on which to base split-second decisions — such as determining if, how, and when to engage in combat. The challenge for the U.S. military is that legacy communications networks aren’t generally designed for harsh, hostile locations and can often leave troops without vital information at the edge. Given this reality, how can the U.S. military pursue a strategy of “information dominance” against its adversaries?
The Army’s Enhanced Expeditionary Signal Battalions (ESB-E) will help. The pilot program to provide alternative tactical network equipment to Warfighter Information Network Tactical (WIN-T) equipment will see the development of command capabilities unimpeded by the surrounding environment or disparate communication systems. In addition, ESB-E communication systems will be capable of rapid deployment and portability without extensive logistical planning.
Constructing an infrastructure to support unimpeded, secure communications is critical to the success of any military force. Better technical capabilities will help soldiers make better, more informed decisions, and ESB-E is a significant step toward keeping the Army ahead of U.S. adversaries in the battle for information dominance.
Here are three ways the U.S. military can leverage ESB-E’s true potential:
Deliver uninterrupted communications in hostile environments
Troops must travel light and not carry more equipment than is strictly necessary. This means that their communication systems need to be compact, lightweight and modular so that they can be set up and taken down quickly.
In addition, such systems should be ruggedized to withstand volatile environments, operate reliably on land, air, and sea, and be capable of surviving air drops, harsh surroundings and extreme weather. This technology needs to be built with 810G certification as a goal from the beginning, not as an afterthought.
Scalability is also key. Any solution needs to be capable of extending horizontally as mission requirements or conditions change and vertically as troop numbers fluctuate.
To ensure seamless communications between U.S. troops and allies on the battlefield, technologies must be interoperable with each other and with legacy systems. The capability to integrate multiple communications systems and interfaces is vital. Since communications systems will be increasingly virtualized in the future, much of the interoperability work will be performed at the hypervisor level with open application programming interfaces to enable agile development and rapid technology adoption.
Securely connect troops at the network’s edge
Today’s battlefields tend to be disconnected, intermittent, limited (DIL) bandwidth environments, but the ESB-E will literally change the communications battlefield. The Army’s communications systems must be able to dynamically and securely connect to Troops at the edge via satellite, Wi-Fi hotspot, commercial and tactical radio, or cellular technology. Dynamically selecting the best path for reach back eliminates the need to reconfigure the system in the field, enhancing warfighter dominance in theater.
In addition, routing modules should support Multi-WAN, Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) and Networking (SDN) capabilities, which are designed for network enclaves. A key step on the way to full SDN deployment in remote areas is Network Function Virtualization (NFV). NFV can be used to virtualize network functions as routing, firewalls, and load-balancing, and abstract them from dedicated hardware. Crucially, these functions can be provisioned or de-provisioned on the fly, using automation tools according to the requirements of a given mission.
Offer world-class situational awareness capabilities
Elevating the situational awareness of a soldier can transform his or her performance and effectiveness on the battlefield. Current techniques will be radically enhanced through quality of service improvements, real-time communications, and integration with sensors in the battlefield. An increasing number of commercial companies are bringing their innovative thinking and practices to the defense space, miniaturizing and virtualizing products to suit the requirements of warfighters at the edge. This means the transformative potential of situational awareness technologies will only get stronger.
In an ideal world, a solider would get all the intelligence they need in DIL environments from a portable device that is just as intuitive and easy-to-use as the Android or iOS smartphone they use at home. But the reality is, specific hardware is required at the edge to make that happen. The Army will need to extend cloud capabilities into the battlefield that would normally be housed in a data center – in essence, creating an infrastructure that can travel seamlessly together with their soldiers, wherever they may tread. (Source: Defense Systems)
06 Aug 19. JEDI contract on hold for DOD chief’s review. The Pentagon will not award the $10bn Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract until Defense Secretary Mark Esper reviews the program. The massive warfighter cloud contract is designed give combat troops at the network edge connectivity to intelligence data and support the use of artificial intelligence across the Defense Department.
JEDI was expected to be awarded in late August.
“Keeping his promise to Members of Congress and the American public, Secretary Esper is looking at the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program,” said Elissa Smith, a DOD spokeswoman, via email statement. “No decision will be made on the program until he has completed his examination.”
Meanwhile, two senior Senate Democrats urged the Defense secretary to “resist political pressures” when it comes to the Pentagon’s 10-year single-award cloud contract.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) wrote to Esper with concerns that his planned JEDI review was driven by political considerations and potentially could compromise the integrity of the federal procurement process.
“The importance of political noninterference is especially important in the context of Department of Defense procurements, where procurement decisions must focus on cost, quality, performance and other considerations directly related to promoting our national security in an increasingly complex global environment,” Reed and Warner wrote in their Aug. 5 letter to Esper.
Although JEDI has faced intensifying scrutiny since the start of the solicitation process, it has already survived legal battles and pre-award protests. Cloud provider Oracle sued DOD, claiming conflicts of interest between interested vendors and DOD employees overseeing the over the procurement process and favoritism towards Amazon. Esper first announced his intent to examine the JEDI deal at a July 24 news conference.
“I’ve heard from everybody about the … JEDI contract, and that’s one of the things I want to take a hard look at,” Esper said.
The comments followed those from President Donald Trump, who said he’d received “tremendous complaints” over the contract. Several House Republicans then soon issued a letter urging the president not to interfere with the process.
DOD CIO Dana Deasy previously told reporters that any delay in JEDI would jeopardize the department’s mission.
“There are active sets of programs that the combatant commands are depending on when that contract gets released,” Deasy said at the time, noting that U.S. Transportation Command is “actively developing a set of next-generation applications” for JEDI.
“If JEDI was to get further delayed, guess what happens? Now you’re back to the model where people need to go build their own cloud solutions,” he said at the time. “That does not serve the Department of Defense well; it does not serve the warfighter well.”
Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are the two companies that met the gate criteria of the solicitation and are currently vying for the contract. (Source: Defense Systems)
07 Aug 19. Indra planning to update cyber range, improve ‘virtualisation.’ Spain’s Indra plans to upgrade its military cyber range in the coming years, with a focus on virtualisation capabilities, the company has told Jane’s. Indra’s cyber range was designed to train users in military environments. The company recently completed a programme with Spain’s Joint Cyber-Defence Command alongside armies from several Latin American countries. This had a number of facets, from collaborative cyber exercises to advanced training in forensic analysis techniques.
The cyber range has various uses, from conducting specialised e-learning courses in cyber defence to training and rehearsal, said Luis García, head of cyber defence for Indra. The range is used to evaluate cyber force capabilities and assess talent, he said, and includes a ‘competition field’ to evaluate individuals or teams and organise ‘capture the flag’ events. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
07 Aug 19. ONR outlines vision for autonomous, distributed airborne EW. The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) is planning to develop advanced algorithms and software to enable autonomous, distributed airborne electronic warfare (EW) operations.
ONR’s Electromagnetic Maneuver Warfare Resource Allocation Management (EMW RAM), under the Future Naval Capabilities (FNC) programme, is seeking software technologies for next-generation EW systems to enable adaptive resource and task management for optimising electronic support (ES) and electronic attack (EA) functions, based on tactical needs for on-board single (own) platform systems and between multiple platforms.
According to ONR’s Information, Cyber and Spectrum Superiority Department, it is envisaged that algorithms and real-time prototype code will incorporate an EW Battle Management (EWBM) framework for own-platform co-ordination and multi-platform collaborative engagements; an advanced EW Adaptive System Management (ASM) framework for ES and EA resource and task management; and an own-platform human-machine interface (HMI) with artificial intelligence decision aids. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
04 Aug 19. UK begins search for future EW countermeasures. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is canvassing industry for electronic warfare countermeasures (EWCM) systems and technologies that could address the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) needs for future soft-kill anti-ship missile defence.
Forming the second component of the overarching Maritime Electronic Warfare Programme (MEWP), the EWCM activity is considering trainable launcher systems, delivery vehicles, and electronic payloads.
In a request for information (RFI) released in early July, the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation’s Maritime Combat Systems team advised that it was conducting market research “to gain a better understanding of the current marketplace and level of technology maturity,” adding, “This RFI encompasses Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) of TRL 5 and above and is primarily interested in commercial and military off-the-shelf (COTS/MOTS) trainable decoy launchers available now or in the very near future.” (Source: IHS Jane’s)
03 Aug 19. The US Army experiment with the network in Afghanistan. US Army brigades in Afghanistan are testing a new set of rules on when to replace and refurbish equipment related to the service’s battlefield network. Maj. Gen. Mitchell Kilgo, the new commander of Communications and Electronics Command, said Aug. 1 the Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigades, which are using new communications equipment and concepts that will be applied to the conventional force, are testing a new model for maintaining this equipment. The Army’s modernized tactical network relies more heavily on commercial off-the-shelf technology and requires the delivery of updated software and hardware every two years. But this approach creates a sustainment challenge for the service compared to the hardware-centric, traditional government procurement mode the Army has followed in the past. As such, CECOM the has come up with a concept for sustaining this network it is calling 5-3-1. The five refers warranties. Most COTS equipment currently comes with a one-year warranty, but by increasing that to five years, will allow the Army to cover the sustainment of systems bought in the short term while the service figures out a longer term strategy. The three is a reference to the Army making a decision in the first three years whether or not to keep or kill the commercial system after the five-year warranty. The one deals a single place that will do all the major refurbishing centralizing the exchange process.
Kilgo, who has been in the job a month, said that while the idea is still in its infancy, the security brigades are using the equipment in Afghanistan.
“We’re involved in that process now. We’ve got our maintenance personnel forward and if something breaks, they’re able to replace one for one, the unit, the SFAB isn’t having to worry about their radio going, how do I get it back because they’re getting one forward,” he said. “Traditionally we’ve gone through the full acquisition process. We’ve had plenty of time to plan, field, train, sustain. This is fast, it’s quick, it’s closing capability gaps in our war fighting apparatus. We’ve got to look at it differently. It’s like putting wheels on a car while you’re driving it.”
The Army will be fielding the first set of modernized equipment to four brigades in 2021. At that point, the sustainment community will begin to work with the program side and industry to implement the sustainment concept. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
05 Aug 19. Collins Aerospace demos AR-2000 airborne radio to US DoD. Collins Aerospace Systems has showcased its new TruNet AR-2000 two-channel, software-defined networking airborne radio to the US Department of Defense (DoD) officials. With increased flexibility and bandwidth, the TruNet radio consists of dual internal power amplifiers. These amplifiers remove the need for external power amplification or external cooling, thereby ensuring reduced size, weight and power requirements. Collins Aerospace’s AR-2000 radio can be installed on various target platforms including tactical helicopters, Command and Control (C2) aircraft and larger unmanned aircraft. The software-defined architecture ensures that the radio’s capabilities can be adjusted to mission needs through software reload.
New waveforms can be incorporated to make the radio adapt to a changing threat environment. The AR-2000 is capable of supporting both existing waveforms and addressing future requirements including networking.
Collins Aerospace Communication, Navigation and Guidance Solutions vice-president and general manager Troy Brunk said: “The AR-2000 is the latest example of our TruNet radio architecture, which has been designed for both airborne and ground radio applications. This provides our customers with a low-risk, reliable and cost-effective approach to crypto modernisation and multichannel advanced networking operations no matter what the mission is.”
With an increased number of channels available to the warfighter, the airborne radio enables greater flexibility on the battlefield.
The demonstration involved the simultaneous operation of two networks connecting both Collins Aerospace and other DoD inventory radios.
One of the two channels operated a multi-node networking waveform with shared voice, data and video.
The second channel operated using the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) waveform. The company’s TruNet AR-2000 radio solution uses 95% of existing hardware. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
05 Aug 19. Netline Communications Technologies Ltd. – a leading developer and manufacturer of high-end electronic warfare and spectrum dominance systems for defense forces and homeland security agencies – is supplying its C-Guard Reactive Jamming (RJ) Manpack system to the IDF. The system is already being operated by the IDF, and is also in ongoing use by ground forces in NATO countries, Asia and Africa.
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), such as roadside bombs activated by radio-controlled devices (namely cell phones), have become a common threat in today’s asymmetric warfare, as they are easy to make. Netline’s reactive jamming system provides frontline forces with a real-time counter-IED solution.
Easily carried into the battlefield, the C-Guard RJ Manpack system detects and prevents IED activation attempts. The system creates a secured zone around the soldiers on the frontline, reacting to real-time situational electronic warfare (EW) threats by both detecting the threat and providing an immediate response of jamming RF signals that are attempting to detonate the IED. The solution’s advantages include superior reactive jamming capabilities, wide coverage, simple operation by an individual soldier to provide protection of personnel within a specific radius, and better overall control of the operational situation, all without requiring any additional hardware.
Netline has also recently secured a €65m contract with the Spanish Ministry of Defense. In a show of confidence similar to the IDF’s, both in Netline and its advanced jamming capabilities, this is a major contract to supply the C-Guard RJ vehicle system for use in all military corps of the Spanish Armed Forces, due to begin in December 2019.
“We are proud that the IDF and the Spanish MOD have chosen our life-saving systems to protect their forces in a variety of operational missions,” says Yallon Bahat, CEO of Netline. “For us, this is further evidence that our strategic decision to invest in the development of high-end EW technologies is bearing fruit. We have succeeded in bringing the message of EW defensive measures to the ground tactical arena, and will continue to invest in advanced generations to provide solutions for future threats in this field.”
01 Aug 19. An airborne radio that requires less power. Collins Aerospace Systems announced Aug. 1 it recently demonstrated a new software-defined networking airborne radio for the Department of Defense.
Such a technology would double the number of available radio channels and require less power, the company said. It would also be being lighter and smaller than current technology, the company said in a press release.
The radio is known as the TruNet AR-2000 and the demonstration involved connecting Collins Aerospace and Defense Department radios with the AR-2000 to showcase the simultaneous operation of the two networks, according to the press release. The company is one of many companies already under contract with the Army to develop waveforms and produce ManPack radios as a way to tap into next-generation communications capabilities and modernize the battlefield network. Collins envisions he AR-2000 operating on tactical helicopters, command and control (C2) aircraft, and large unmanned aircraft. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra has a proven record of accomplishment – with over 15 years of experience in delivering secure communications and cybersecurity solutions for governments around the globe; elite militaries; and private enterprises of all sizes.
As a dynamic, agile, security accredited organisation, Spectra can leverage this experience to deliver Cyber Advisory and secure Hosted and Managed Solutions on time, to spec and on budget, ensuring compliance with industry standards and best practices.
Spectra’s SlingShot® is a unique low SWaP system that enables in-service U/VHF tactical radios to utilise Inmarsat’s commercial satellite network for BLOS COTM. Including omnidirectional antenna for the man, vehicle, maritime and aviation platforms, the tactical net can broadcast over 1000s miles between forward units and a rear HQ, no matter how or where the deployment. Unlike many BLOS options, SlingShot maintains full COTM (Communications On The Move) capability and low size and weight
On 23 November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced that it had recently been listed as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier for 2015-2016 by the UK Crown Commercial Services
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 BATTLESPACE Businessman of the Year by BATTLESPACE magazine and is a finalist in the inaugural British Ex-Forces In Business Awards in the Innovator Of The Year category.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.